Shameless Season 4 Review “Emily”

Episode 411

After the relentless misery of this season’s Shameless, it was about time we got some levity. While the episode, ‘Emily’, couldn’t exactly be called light in the traditional sense, when the build up to so many of the characters situations has been so brutally dark, it’s massively satisfying to see some storylines reach their happy(ish) endings this week. Those that do appear to be Ian and Mickey – who got all of the most memorable moments of the episode – Carl and, against all the odds, quite possibly Frank.

All of the chatter around ‘Emily’ will undoubtedly be about Mickey’s coming out, and the surprisingly non-fatal consequences of his public declaration in front of his dad. After four seasons of strife and anguish, it seems that these two might finally be able to work it out and, now that the Terry issue appears to have been pushed aside for the time being while he goes back to jail, I wonder how much of them we’ll be seeing next week. Maybe we can just enjoy one of the Gallaghers having a happy ending for a spell?

We have, thankfully, seen enough of what Ian and Mickey might look like as a fully fledged couple this season, and all of the sweet moments between them served to make Mickey’s surprising reaction to Ian’s ultimatum completely plausible. It’s a triumph for the couple, and a brave move for the show after spending so long establishing why the two of them can’t be together. Where do we go from here, and did this final showdown mark the end of Mickey’s paternal troubles? I doubt it somehow.

But aside from this seemingly all-encompassing storyline, there was a lot going on elsewhere in ‘Emily’. Lip and Amanda’s romance kicked up a notch with him seeing through his promise to freak out her parents, and Debbie endured some nasty public humiliation courtesy of Matty’s new girlfriend. While the latter storyline seemed like one trauma too many for young Debs to endure in one season, I’m really starting to enjoy Lip’s connection with Amanda. It’s similar to his relationship with Mandy, in a way, but somehow comes off a little more functional. That $10,000 is also going to come in handy while Fiona’s away.

Which brings us to our heroine, who was largely missing from the episode courtesy of her 90-day stint in jail. It’s a testament to how much we love the rest of the Gallaghers that this episode – one of the best of the season – didn’t suffer from two almost-missing main characters, and it even felt like Frank and Fiona were sharing a storyline despite not being in the same space. Frank’s delirium brought about some truly touching moments, those that we have been waiting for since he was diagnosed as terminal at the end of last season, with the titular character bringing back memories of past mistakes.

Because we entered this world at a point when Fiona was already past caring, it’s jarring to see that, not only was she once a little girl with unconditional love for her parents – much like Debbie started out – but Frank was also a much more self-aware adult, willing himself to do better whenever he made a mistake. Those scenes were something that was desperately needed to fill in some of the blanks, even making Frank seem slightly more redeemable in light of his miracle surgery, and his desire to be forgiven by the one kid who has completely washed her hands of him adds another welcome layer to their dynamic.

What did you think of the episode? What are you predictions for next week’s finale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.